One of the things Roberts spoke about was the need for more training for workforce employees.
Roberts said there were more than 800,000 vacant skilled jobs in the United States today.
Roberts said that generations of pushing high school graduates into college led to the shortage in the skilled labor jobs that are necessary to keep the country running.
“What we forgot was not everybody was designed to go to college,” Roberts said.
Roberts talked about efforts to encourage young people to chose careers like welding, heating and air conditioning, electrical, etc. at a personal level.
“I went to Bevill State and set up scholarships, I took $1,200 out of my income, roughly 2.5 percent, and I set up two $600 scholarships,” Roberts said. The scholarships were not available in time last year, so this year four students will receive the scholarships. The money requires that the students study a technical field. The scholarships were awarded to students from Dora, Cordova, Curry and Walker.
He also discussed some of the issues facing the state, including debt and the separate general and education funds, which many states consolidate, Roberts said.
“The general fund has been stagnant for years,” Roberts said. Although the funds coming into the fund have been the same, economic decline has put more people on assistance programs, which has increased the burden but not the funds, Roberts said.
He also discussed efforts to cut department and agency spending to bring the numbers back in line. Some of that means looking at each group, department and agency to see where their money is being spent.